All of the following albums are pretty good, for some reason or another, and were released during the 1968 Album of the Year award cycle.
Je m'appelle Barbra, Barbra Streisand
Adam's Apple, Wayne Shorter
Face to Face, The Kinks
Surrealistic Pillow, Jefferson Airplane
After spending weeks thinking to myself, "Why does Today sound so familiar? And what's this weird feeling I have associated with the song? Is that melancholy? Nostalgia? Love??", I was finally able to place the reference.
Blowin' Your Mind!, Van Morrison
The Sound of Wilson Pickett, Wilson Pickett
The Far East Suite, Duke Ellington
Miles Smiles, Miles Davis
I'm just now realizing I'm not that familiar with Miles Davis' work. I think I've only listened to Kind of Blue and maybe Sketches of Spain.
A Hard Road, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers
I forget who introduced me to John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, but whoever and wherever that person is, they deserve a high five.
The Doors, The Doors
While I know "The Doors" is the name of a band that existed around this time, I have no sense of what that band sounds like. At the moment, the band sounds sort of indistinct from much of other music of the era. I'm excited to see how their sound progresses in the future. (Or find out they just released one album and then disbanded...)
Are You Experienced, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
It's hard to imagine Barbra Streisand and this album existing at the same time. It's hard to imagine listening to this for the first time, having never heard anything like it, ever.
As an experiment, I listened to "Purple Haze", "Brown Eyed Girl", and then "Purple Haze" again... it was intense.
I almost want to go back in time, tap Van on the shoulder, and ask: "Hey - did you ever consider playing like this? Because, you know... now that this other type of music exists, are you seriously just going to keep doing what you're doing?"
Part of me is genuinely curious. When the intro to "Purple Haze" finds that second gear, it feels like a personal affront to all the other musicians in the world.
Nina Simone Sings the Blues, Nina Simone
I've loved this album for years. It was embarrassingly recently that I realized what "I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl" was about.
David Bowie, David Bowie
Smiley Smile, The Beach Boys
This album is very odd and I think I love it. There's something creepy, nighttime spectacle about the album that's just grand. A song titled-and-about vegetables? The non-lyrical, alternatingly ominous and slightly-less-ominous "Fall Breaks and Back to Winter (W. Woodpecker Symphony)". "Wind Chimes"??
It was weird to find "Good Vibrations" on this album, until I listened to "Good Vibrations": it's not the straight ahead pop song I always thought it was. I'm seriously wondering if there isn't a poppier version of "Good Vibrations" that's out there somewhere... if this is a revisioning of the song that fit the vibe of the album.
It's also possible that I've never heard the full song before. If this is truly the canonical version of "Good Vibrations", I'm legit surprised it was such a popular song... I wouldn't have expected the public to embrace something so non-formulaic.
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, Aretha Franklin
This album feel like the point in Aretha's career that she separated herself from the music of the era and started to sound like something entirely her own.
Side note: When I was screening I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You for this project, I grabbed my phone and purchased it as soon as the last track finished. It's a quite good album.